Emptied, damaged, and collapsed buildings surrounded by piles of debris and dead bodies in war are the kind of the images we usually associate with ruins. However, there are other kinds of ruins that are not caused by advanced weapons but by twisted human nature. Ruined, the Pulitzer Award-winning play written by Lynn Nottage and directed by Kate Whoriskey, shows us a new angle to look at the destruction of war and the complexity of survival through relationships, politics, devastation, hope, and love.

Emptied, damaged, and collapsed buildings surrounded by piles of debris and dead bodies in war are the kind of the images we usually associate with ruins. However, there are other kinds of ruins that are not caused by advanced weapons but by twisted human nature. Ruined, the Pulitzer Award-winning play written by Lynn Nottage and directed by Kate Whoriskey, shows us a new angle to look at the destruction of war and the complexity of survival through relationships, politics, devastation, hope, and love.

Set in a small town in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, brothel/rain forest bar owner Mama Nadi tries to protect and make profit from young women refugees who are sold by human traffickers and maybe saved from brutal sexual abuses. Completely destroyed and irreparably damaged, these women suffer from painful nightmares day and night. They are not just ruined physically, but psychologically too. Though it might sound so mistaken and immoral to have these young girls sold as prostitutes in exchange of shelter, food and clothing, it turns out life with Mama Nadi’s is much more sufferable than months of sexual and physical abuses by different hoards of soldiers in the jungle. And only with hope, these “ruined” women are able to forget the discomfort and to keep living. That little hope is what it takes for a human to be human.

The play successfully profiles four women whose lives have been ruined by war in many ways. Each individual story is powerful and real, as they are drawn from interviews with Congolese refugees by playwright Lynn Nottage and director Kate Whoriskey conducted in Uganda in 2004. Professionally managed and artistically produced, the drama vividly describes the hurt and fears these women endure. It reminds us the complexity of what is happening now, and invites us to respond and connect with the disadvantaged. “In all of the work that we do, we actively seek out opportunities to present and illuminate voices and stories that are unknown of, less often told, and that ask questions about the world,” said artistic director Kate Whoriskey.

Ruined runs at Intiman Theatre through August 15 with its original off-Broadway Obie-winning cast. Tickets are available from www.intiman.org or 206.269.1900 at $10-75. Details on post-play conversations and community events, RUN FOR CONGO WOMEN, can be found at Intiman’s website. Donations are also welcome to support survivors of sexual violence in DRC.

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